Best Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

Coursework, Graduation Requirements and Careers for Master’s Students

The criminal justice field is growing quickly with an increase in available jobs. While competition in this field can be tough, candidates with advanced education and field experience can get an extra competitive edge in the workplace. Obtaining an online master’s degree in criminal justice can place applicants first in line for these in-demand jobs, providing them with the advanced training and field experience they need to succeed as a criminologist, corrections officer, crime lab analyst or fraud investigator, among other exciting careers. This guide covers everything prospective students need to know about enrolling and excelling in an online criminal justice master’s program.

Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice 2017 Leaderboard

Finding the right criminal justice program is a top priority for students looking to get a master’s degree in this growing field, but the right school differs for each student. High-quality programs feature comprehensive degree programs, good student-to-faculty ratios, and high graduation rates. The following highlights top ranked for schools with a criminal justice master’s program.

RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioGrad RateRanking ScoreSchool DescriptionAdditional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1Saint Leo University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
43%
Ranking SCORE 99.83
Read more

The MS criminal justice degree program offered by Saint Leo is a fully online program, and offers increased opportunities in the criminal justice profession. Skills learned will deal with all aspects of criminal justice, including finances and management. In addition, there are several degree focuses students can choose from within the criminal justice program. Saint Leo is a military school, and offers some financial aid to graduate students when available. Career services are offered to students from enrollment until after graduation including access to the alumni network and assistance with resume building.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
2Utica College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
47%
Ranking SCORE 95.41
Read more

Utica College offers a BS in criminal justice, with learning experiences both in the professional realm and abroad. Internship and other practice-based learning opportunities are available and required for graduation, and special focus is given to international issues. The program is designed to prepare students for further education, while still giving students ample opportunities to learn employable skills and knowledge. Online resources are available for students, as well as on-campus support services, organizations, and multi-cultural support events and organizations. A large number of Utica’s students receive financial aid, including a list of scholarships.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
3Sam Houston State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
25%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
48%
Ranking SCORE 94.74
Read more

Students can graduate with either a master of science in criminal justice or a master of science in criminal justice leadership and management. Both programs consist of 36 credit hours. The leadership and management degree is designed for students currently working in mid-management positions in the field of criminal justice who are seeking career advancement. The standard criminal justice masters is for students who are pursuing careers in corrections, law enforcement, social services or securities. Degrees earned online are identical to those earned by traditional, on-campus students, and all online degrees are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
4National University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
23%
Ranking SCORE 94.71
Read more

National University's Master of Criminal Justice degree is fully online. Criminal justice training at National University prepares adults to meet requirements associated with corporate security, military security, police, prison officer and probation roles. Administration in criminal justice, how to encourage and help develop civil rest, understand court decisions and how to conduct criminal justice research are other functions that the degree prepares students to complete. Theory and applied knowledge are program cornerstone's. There are eight core courses in the 36 quarter credit hour program. Examples of these courses are comparative criminal justice systems, violence and victimization and advanced research methods.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
5University of New Haven Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
95%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
56%
Ranking SCORE 94.45
Read more

The criminal justice master's degree at the University of New Haven can be completed 100 percent online. Courses are condensed into periods of six-and-a-half to seven weeks, meaning all 36 credits can be completed in two years. Graduates will be qualified for careers in the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The university invites prospective students to watch a virtual information session about the master's program, which combines academic theory with real-world applications. The University of New Haven has compiled a vast menu of resources designed specifically to help criminal justice students.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
6College of Saint Elizabeth Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
54%
Ranking SCORE 94.38
Read more

In addition to awarding the Master of Arts in Justice Administration and Public Service, the College of Saint Elizabeth operates a Police Studies Institute. Through the institute, current public safety workers discuss public policies and receive advanced leadership educational training. Master's degree classes are designed for adults with deep interest in law enforcement or existing criminal justice or public safety work experience. Areas that master's degree classes spotlight include social justice, community safety, law enforcement and court systems. Documents needed when applying for the master's degree include an application, personal statement, recommendation letters and a resume. Applicants must also complete an interview.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
7Chaminade University of Honolulu Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
36%
Ranking SCORE 94.32
Read more

The master of science in criminal justice administration program focuses on management, research methods, program evaluation and personnel administration. Graduates can go onto law school or careers that include homeland security, law enforcement, corrections and private security and investigation. Concentrations include law enforcement, corrections and a hybrid program, as well as an online program for distance learners. Most students will finish the program in 18 months to two years, and all students must finish in fewer than five years. Coursework is designed to promote critical thinking and the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to criminal justice applications.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
8Roger Williams University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
89%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
61%
Ranking SCORE 93.96
Read more

Roger Williams University's School of Justice Studies awards a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Policing is only one area that instructors focus on in class. Crime causes, juvenile and adult court systems and community based correction options are other areas that instructors cover. Adults who want real life criminal justice training before they graduate with the master's degree can participate in an internship. Additional program outcomes include strong critical thinking, reasoning and analyzing skills. Continued criminal justice education is provided through the university's graduate cyber security, public administration and legal studies and law programs.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
9Tiffin University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
92%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
33%
Ranking SCORE 93.79
Read more

Option to earn a graduate criminal justice degree at Tiffin University starts in the university's School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences. Adults who currently have a bachelor's degree could earn a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Specializations that criminal justice majors can declare are in crime analysis, homeland security, criminal behavior, forensic psychology and justice administration. More than half of the master's degree can be completed online. As the program advances, lectures are complemented with conferences and guest speaker appearances. The school also operates a center for cyber-defense and forensics and a center for justice and social and behavioral research.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
10Lewis University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
59%
Ranking SCORE 93.65
Read more

Students who graduate with a master of science in criminal/social justice degree will be able to join a variety of law enforcement organizations or advance their careers within their current organization. The faculty who teach the courses not only have doctoral degrees, but hands-on professional experience in several different fields. Lewis University and all of its master's programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students will complete assignments according to fixed class schedules. Students are not, however, required to be online at any specific time of day. technical support is available at all hours of the day, as is student service support.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
11La Salle University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
94%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
68%
Ranking SCORE 93.55
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
12Arkansas State University-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
65%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
39%
Ranking SCORE 93.38
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
13Wilmington University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
34%
Ranking SCORE 93.31
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
14Missouri Baptist University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
38%
Ranking SCORE 93.30
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
15Stevenson University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
64%
Ranking SCORE 93.28
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
16Monmouth University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
64%
Ranking SCORE 93.16
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
17University of Denver Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
81%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
76%
Ranking SCORE 93.02
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
18Carlow University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
56%
Ranking SCORE 92.94
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
19University of Louisville Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
56%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
52%
Ranking SCORE 92.91
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
20Bethel University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
51%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
29%
Ranking SCORE 92.81
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
21Southeast Missouri State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
76%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
46%
Ranking SCORE 92.80
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
22University of Arkansas at Little Rock Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
19%
Ranking SCORE 92.80
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
23Mississippi College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
62%
Ranking SCORE 92.61
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
24Angelo State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
58%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
32%
Ranking SCORE 92.61
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
25Michigan State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
44%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
79%
Ranking SCORE 92.55
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
26New Mexico State University-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
39%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
44%
Ranking SCORE 92.53
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
27Troy University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
45%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
35%
Ranking SCORE 92.52
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
28DeSales University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
68%
Ranking SCORE 92.39
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
29Salve Regina University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
72%
Ranking SCORE 92.38
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
30Adelphi University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
90%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
66%
Ranking SCORE 92.35
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
31University of Toledo Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
85%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
46%
Ranking SCORE 92.34
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
32Philadelphia University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
61%
Ranking SCORE 92.33
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
33Marymount University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
94%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
50%
Ranking SCORE 92.32
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
34Washburn University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
58%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
34%
Ranking SCORE 92.29
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
35Tarleton State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
35%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
39%
Ranking SCORE 92.28
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
36University of Memphis Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
40%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
40%
Ranking SCORE 92.27
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
37Nova Southeastern University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
94%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
42%
Ranking SCORE 92.26
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
38University of Houston-Downtown Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
34%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
12%
Ranking SCORE 92.24
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
39University of Alaska Fairbanks Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
43%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
33%
Ranking SCORE 92.23
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
40Southwestern College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
95%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
51%
Ranking SCORE 92.22
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
41Youngstown State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
45%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
32%
Ranking SCORE 92.22
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
42Georgian Court University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
88%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
49%
Ranking SCORE 92.14
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
43St John's University-New York Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
98%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
59%
Ranking SCORE 92.07
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
44Wichita State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
65%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
41%
Ranking SCORE 92.06
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
45Arkansas Tech University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
56%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
41%
Ranking SCORE 92.05
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
46Wayland Baptist University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
33%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
36%
Ranking SCORE 92.02
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
47Fayetteville State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
69%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
31%
Ranking SCORE 92.00
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
48University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
61%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
66%
Ranking SCORE 92.00
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
49Saint Cloud State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
39%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
49%
Ranking SCORE 91.96
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
50University of Northern Colorado Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
79%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
45%
Ranking SCORE 91.91
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo

Find Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

Students looking to get their master’s degree in criminal justice can choose from a variety of accredited programs across the country. The search tool below can help narrow all available options by filtering different program features such as school type, location, tuition and student population. Students can compare schools across the country based on different criteria:

Basic Search
Tuition
School Type
Advanced Search +
Student Population
Compare key info for up to 4 schools

Please remove a school if you would like to compare a new one

results

Show:

School Tuition
Tuition for in-state undergrads at the campus location
Acceptance Rate Student Population School Type Online Criminal Justice Programs

From Admission to Graduation: Online Criminal Justice Master’s Timeline

It’s never too early for students to get on the right track with their criminal justice master’s degree program. During their undergraduate years, students need to focus on taking criminal justice courses and master’s program pre-requisites, excelling in all of their classes, and making a good impression and connections with teachers and professionals who may be able to provide letters of recommendations down the road. Graduate level programs provide in-depth training and knowledge about the inner workings of the criminal justice system and the process of conducting high-level criminal investigations.

The following graphic outlines the specific steps a student needs to take throughout an online master’s program in criminal justice, from admission to graduation:

Application Process

The admissions process for an online criminal justice master’s degree program begins with successful completion of an accredited undergraduate program. Students must major or minor in criminal justice or complete studies in a closely related field. They must be prepared to submit letters of recommendation from professors that taught criminal justice-related classes and provide examples of success throughout their undergraduate program, whether this is was in the form of successfully completed simulation crime investigation projects or well-written essays and reports.

Graduate from an accredited undergraduate program

Accreditation, the standards set to validate the education of a college, is very important when selecting a college to attend for undergraduate studies. Many criminal justice graduate programs will not accept a degree from a university or college that has not been accredited.

Major or minor in criminal justice during undergrad

Many online schools will only accept students into their master’s programs who have either majored or minored in criminal justice during their undergraduate career. However, a degree in a closely related field may be accepted on a case-by-case basis depending on the university. Additional coursework in criminology or criminal justice may be required for those who graduated with a major outside of the field.

Meet minimum master’s GPA requirements

Online colleges and universities generally set a minimum GPA requirement for admission to a master’s degree program. If a student does not meet the requirement when they send in their undergraduate transcript, this can pose a major challenge to getting accepted. Students can attempt to retake general education or criminal justice major courses for better grades before applying to master’s programs if necessary.

Collect criminal justice professional references

Letters of recommendation are important for student to acquire when applying into a master’s program in criminal justice. Most programs will require at least two letters of recommendation in the application packet. Letters should come from professional and applicable sources, such as professors from criminal justice courses or supervisors from corrections, criminology, law enforcement and similar jobs and internships.

Take master’s-level tests

A GRE score is typically required for admission to a master’s program, including for online schools. This graduate-level standardized test is designed to score students on their general knowledge in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Some criminal justice master’s programs may set minimum test score requirements for applicants.

Year 1 Milestones
Complete core master’s-level courses

In their first year, master’s students take a series of core classes that cover the foundations of criminal justice and pave the way for specializations, such as criminology, research methods and statistics.

Complete concentration courses in criminal justice

After completing core online courses, students can move on to classes in their chosen concentration. Advanced concentrations in criminal justice include criminology, corrections/rehabilitation, forensics, homeland security and law enforcement.

Make plans to meet graduation requirements

Students may need to choose between completing a thesis, taking a comprehensive exam, or pursuing an internship to meet graduation requirements for an online master’s. For criminal justice students, graduation requirements will usually need to be related to a student’s chosen concentration.

Year 2 Milestones
Take advanced criminal justice courses and seminars

Students must take advanced courses that delve deep into core subjects and teach students how to use research methods and statistics to analyze and solve problems. They will work through real-life examples in criminology, forensics and corrections with a series of advanced courses, seminars and even workshops that provide hands-on training when needed.

Complete research papers or capstone course

Completion of an intensive research project or capstone course is an important element of many online master’s degree programs. This research project may focus on a specialized area, such as criminal justice policy or practice where students must use advanced research methods, statistics, and planning and management skills to solve a problem and illustrate exactly how they solved the problem.

Graduation Requirements

To obtain a complete understanding of the social and legal aspects of crime needed for a career in criminal justice, online students must complete a list of general requirements before graduation. Students will have to complete the minimum unit requirement before graduating from their master’s program. The course load differs for each university but generally lies around 30 credits.

Comprehensive criminal justice exam

Many schools require a comprehensive exam to be completed at the end of the degree program based on what the students learned in their core criminal justice classes. It will cover skills such as professional writing, criminology, criminal policy and correctional theory.

Completion of criminal justice thesis

An alternative to the end-of-coursework comprehensive exam is to enroll in the thesis track. Students in this track will develop a thesis based on existing research or theory. Through the completion of their thesis, students will be required to demonstrate graduate-level skills in criminal justice studies.

Internship in criminal justice field

Some online criminal justice master’s programs may require students to complete a set number of internship hours that count towards their credit hours. Other schools consider internships an optional part of the program, that can provide hands-on field experience for e-learners.

Career Advancement After Earning an Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Graduates of an online criminal justice master’s degree program can explore a number of attractive career paths in areas of criminology, corrections, rehabilitation, forensics, homeland security and law enforcement. Whether they want to work as an FBI or CIA agent or in a lab setting as a criminologist or researcher, an online criminal justice degree can prepare the student for a rewarding career in their field.

A master’s degree program provides high-level training in areas of investigations, computer science, and emergency response. Graduates of the programs learn how to work in teams to solve crimes, prepare and analyze reports, and conduct short-term and long-term investigations using advanced research methods and tools. Here is an overview of career paths to explore with an online master’s in criminal justice degree:

Browse Master’s in Criminal Justice Careers
Criminologists

Responsible for studying the nature of a crime and working with law enforcement agencies and other organizations to investigate a crime scene. They are primarily responsible for conducting extensive research to draw conclusions about why the crime occurred. They use statistical and analytical methods to solve real-life problems and their reports may be published in journals or associated publications.

Mean Annual Wage

$73,760

Growth Potential

-1%

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic scientists and technicians provide assistance in criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing different types of evidence, including chemical, biological and physical evidence collected at a crime scene. Technicians are usually tasked with writing detailed reports about their findings.

Mean Annual Wage

$56,320

Growth Potential

27%

Computer Forensics Analysts

Working closely with law enforcement agencies and private firms, these analysts retrieve pertinent information from a computer network that may have been hacked or corrupted by a virus. They may also be involved with examining data stored in electronic devices as part of a criminal investigation.

Mean Annual Wage
Growth Potential

27%

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors, are responsible for preparing plains and procedure to report natural disasters and other emergencies. They may work closely with government agencies and public safety officials to ensure everything is documented accurately and to coordinate the dispatch of emergency services personnel and emergency response teams.

Mean Annual Wage

$67,330

Growth Potential

6%

Source: BLS

Learning Outcomes & Skills Gained in an Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Master’s in Criminal Justice

  • Advanced analytical & reasoning skills

    Learning how to analyze evidence, interpret results and make effective decisions based on these results is critical for success in this field. No matters what career path they choose in this field, students need to have strong critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills to solve crimes and prepare reports.

  • Advanced comprehension of criminal justice system and policy

    Those working directly for Homeland Security as a secret service agent, CIA officer or similar role learn how to implement effective policies and procedures to increase public safety. Criminal justice master’s degree programs provide students with the knowledge and training they need to implement these types of policies.

  • Forensic research methods and analysis

    Forensics is a specialized area of criminal justice but all students completing an advanced degree program in this field learn the basic skills and protocols to conduct forensic research projects. This involves analyzing different types of evidence based on fingerprints, digital footprints, and residue.

Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice 2016 Leaderboard

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Sam Houston State University 99.80 82% 5 21:1 48%

Students can graduate with either a master of science in criminal justice or a master of science in criminal justice leadership and management. Both programs consist of 36 credit hours. The leadership and management degree is designed for students currently working in mid-management positions in the field of criminal justice who are seeking career advancement. The standard criminal justice masters is for students who are pursuing careers in corrections, law enforcement, social services or securities. Degrees earned online are identical to those earned by traditional, on-campus students, and all online degrees are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate74%
Read More Read Less
2 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 99.67 85% 1 12:1 60%

Like all degrees and certificates at Keiser, the master of arts in criminal justice degree and the master of arts in homeland security degree are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Many who graduate with the homeland security degree pursue leadership roles in federal agencies like the FBI, the Secret Service, the ATF and FEMA. Those who graduate with criminal justice degrees often move into careers in local law enforcement, court systems and private law enforcement. So they aren't overwhelmed, students take just one class at a time, each of which last for four weeks, before moving on to the next class.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate49%
Read More Read Less
3 Arkansas Tech University 99.38 74% 1 20:1 41%

Eligible students may apply for unconditional admission into the Master of Science degree program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMHS). The priority spring admission deadline is October 1st, March 1st for the fall. Online graduate students use the Blackboard course management system to submit and receive assignments, and to communicate with classmates and instructors, although communication will also take place through an assigned Arkansas Tech email account. Students must check their email and log in to Blackboard daily, but there is no set course schedule and students may complete assignments on their own pace.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate86%
Read More Read Less
4 Albany State University 99.37 8% 1 16:1 39%

The master of science in criminal justice degree can be completed online as long as the student is admitted to the university's Graduate School. The online division has recently updated its information architecture and website, Virtual Front Door for RamNet. The upgrades have made searching easier, social media sharing more functional and generally improves the overall user experience for students. Online students will have access to faculty and staff, as well as to advising and counseling services, just like traditional, on-campus students. Degrees earned online are identical to degrees earned by students who attend the physical campus.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate47%
Read More Read Less
5 University of Central Florida 99.16 72% 2 31:1 65%

Students can choose between two tracks in pursuit of a master of science of criminal justice degree. The 30-credit hour research track prepares students for an academic role in their field. The 36-credit hour professional track prepares them for leadership roles. All online graduate students receive library and research services, as well as academic services, which include peer-assisted learning, study skills inventory and help with specific coursework. Students can also take advantage of a writing center, career services, software and skills training and access to the bookstore/computer store. Advising and tech support services are also available for all online students.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate50%
Read More Read Less
6 Lewis University 99.11 8% 3 13:1 59%

Students who graduate with a master of science in criminal/social justice degree will be able to join a variety of law enforcement organizations or advance their careers within their current organization. The faculty who teach the courses not only have doctoral degrees, but hands-on professional experience in several different fields. Lewis University and all of its master's programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students will complete assignments according to fixed class schedules. Students are not, however, required to be online at any specific time of day. 24/7 technical support is available, as is student service support.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate62%
Read More Read Less
7 Northwestern State University of Louisiana 99.10 76% 1 20:1 36%

Students can earn a master of arts in adult learning and development with a concentration in homeland security completely online, as well as a master of science in homeland security. Students have access to the campus' Counseling and Career Services Center, which helps them with concerns regarding any academic, personal and career issues. They can also access outreach services, and the campus maintains a crisis hotline. Most courses are taught in Moodle, and some courses may require students to visit the campus for some exams, although most provide alternative options. Online degrees are identical to those earned by traditional, on-campus students.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate73%
Read More Read Less
8 Chaminade University of Honolulu 99.03 84% 2 11:1 36%

Like all master's programs at Chaminade University of Honolulu, the master of science in criminal justice administration degree follows an accelerated,10-week format, with at least two courses offered per term. Most students will complete the program in between 18 months and two years, and can choose either a correctional track or a law enforcement track. The Office of Professional and Continuing Education has designed all online programs to be flexible enough for students who work full time or who live outside of Honolulu. Terms begin in January, April, July and October.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate86%
Read More Read Less
9 University of Louisville 99.00 74% 1 12:1 52%

The University of Louisville offers its Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration degree entirely online. The 36-credit program provides a concentration of learning on justice administration, crime theory, legal/ethical issues involved in the criminal justice system and juvenile justice. Students are introduced to advanced academic research methods and statistics. The accelerated online format combines six-week terms with six starting dates for incoming students each year. Up to six credits of previous graduate work may be transferred to the program. Core courses make up 15 hours of the total credits, with 18 credit hours of elective courses and a final, professional research paper.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate74%
Read More Read Less
10 University of Alaska Fairbanks 98.98 43% 1 14:1 33%

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Master of Arts in Administration of Justice degree is completed entirely online except for a one-week residency at the UAF campus where students present their final master’s project. The degree program is designed for current and future criminal justice managers and administrators. Graduation requirements include completion of 30 online course credits along with six credits of master’s thesis or project work. During the on-campus week, students will complete requirements by sitting for the comprehensive graduate examination.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
Read More Read Less
11 Fairmont State University 98.92 72% 1 15:1 34%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate67%
Read More Read Less
12 University of New Haven 98.88 84% 3 15:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate81%
Read More Read Less
13 Bethel University 98.87 75% 1 12:1 29%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate57%
Read More Read Less
14 Monmouth University 98.85 95% 2 14:1 64%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate74%
Read More Read Less
15 Champlain College 98.84 79% 1 14:1 64%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate64%
Read More Read Less
16 Stevenson University 98.83 8% 2 15:1 64%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate62%
Read More Read Less
17 University of Detroit Mercy 98.77 88% 3 13:1 57%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate69%
Read More Read Less
18 Utica College 98.75 78% 3 11:1 47%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate82%
Read More Read Less
19 Saint Leo University 98.74 64% 8 15:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs8
  • Acceptance Rate72%
Read More Read Less
20 Tiffin University 98.70 78% 2 18:1 33%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate54%
Read More Read Less
21 Roger Williams University 98.68 76% 3 15:1 61%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate78%
Read More Read Less
22 McNeese State University 98.66 7% 1 21:1 38%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate75%
Read More Read Less
23 Texas A & M International University 98.62 7% 1 21:1 39%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate47%
Read More Read Less
24 Adelphi University 98.60 89% 1 11:1 66%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate72%
Read More Read Less
25 Youngstown State University 98.50 72% 1 15:1 32%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate83%
Read More Read Less
26 University of Memphis 98.37 76% 1 14:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth1
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate47%
Read More Read Less
27 Tarleton State University 98.37 64% 2 19:1 39%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate53%
Read More Read Less
28 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 98.36 61% 1 18:1 62%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate76%
Read More Read Less
29 University of Houston-Downtown 98.33 6% 2 22:1 12%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate84%
Read More Read Less
30 Liberty University 98.32 84% 1 18:1 46%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate22%
Read More Read Less
31 Concordia University-Saint Paul 98.30 66% 1 15:1 47%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate53%
Read More Read Less
32 Salve Regina University 98.28 83% 1 13:1 72%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate71%
Read More Read Less
33 Troy University 98.27 61% 1 15:1 35%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate44%
Read More Read Less
34 Wilmington University 98.25 41% 3 14:1 34%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance RateN/A
Read More Read Less
35 University of Toledo 98.21 71% 1 20:1 46%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate95%
Read More Read Less
36 Wichita State University 98.18 56% 1 18:1 41%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate96%
Read More Read Less
37 Columbia College 98.15 6% 1 34:1 42%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
Read More Read Less
38 University of Colorado Colorado Springs 98.14 45% 1 15:1 47%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate92%
Read More Read Less

Additional Resources

The following additional resources and links to professional associations and training programs can complement a graduate student’s professional career:

American Academy of Forensic Science

This organization focuses on the specialization of forensic sciences and pushes to promote science within the legal system.

American Correctional Association

The ACA seeks to draw professional members whose goals are to collectively improve the justice system.

American Probation and Parole Association

The APPA operates within a specialization of criminal justice and is involved in the implementation of criminal justice in the areas of parole and probation.

International Association of Women Police

This international network of female police officers and law enforcement professionals informs members of training and volunteer opportunities and provides professional support.

NABCJ (National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice)

The NABCJ seeks to achieve equal justice for African-Americans and other minorities by improving the administration of justice.